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Losers and Winners in Economic Growth


  • Robert J. Barro
  • Jong-Wha Lee


For 116 countries from 1965 to 1985, the lowest quintile had an average growth rate of real per capita GDP of -1.3%, whereas the highest quintile had an average of 4.8%. We isolate five influences that discriminate reasonably well between the slow and fast-growers: a conditional convergence effect, whereby a country grows faster if it begins with lower real per capita GDP relative to its initial level of human capital in the fOnTIS of educational attainment and health; a positive effect on growth from a high ratio of investment to GDP (although this effect is weaker than that reported in some previous studies); a negative effect from overly large government; a negative effect from government-induced distortions of markets; and a negative effect from political instability. Overall, the fitted growth rates for 85 countries for 1965-85 had a correlation of 0.8 with the actual values. We also find that female educational attainment has a pronounced negative effect on fertility, whereas female and male attainment are each positively related to life expectancy and negatively related to infant mortality. Male attainment plays a positive role in primary-school enrollment ratios, and male and female attainment relate positively to enrollment at the secondary and higher levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "Losers and Winners in Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4341
    Note: EFG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sweeney, Richard J, 1986. " Beating the Foreign Exchange Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(1), pages 163-182, March.
    2. Froot, Kenneth A & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Foreign Exchange," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 179-192, Summer.
    3. Richard M. Levich & Lee R. Thomas, 1991. "The Significance of Technical Trading-Rule Profits in the Foreign Exchange Market: A Bootstrap Approach," NBER Working Papers 3818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Black, Fischer, 1990. " Equilibrium Exchange Rate Hedging," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(3), pages 899-907, July.
    5. Jorion, Philippe, 1990. "The Exchange-Rate Exposure of U.S. Multinationals," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(3), pages 331-345, July.
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    JEL classification:

    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics


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